By now, many of us should be familiar with the popular Chinese proverb,
“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime”- Chinese Proverb
So, why then do we find that we have more people just willing to give people fishes, rather than actually teaching them how to fish? Or worse still, why are some people not even willing to give others fishes, even when they clearly have the means?
Let’s begin from first principles, and establish some basic facts. The world, in which we all live, is such a beautiful place, saturated with countless opportunities, most of which are currently untapped or under-utilized. So, the truth is that opportunities for growth and development will always abound, with more than enough to go around. So, do not go around with an attitude of, “opportunities are limited and may not be enough for everyone”. That’s a lie, which I wanted to address up front. There would always be room for everyone to grow, and live to the fullest of their potentials, as long as others, who consider themselves successful, would be willing to give others the opportunity to make their own mark.
You see, sometimes people who have turned out successful (in some sense), find it very difficult to let others also find their own niche in life. While I consider such attitudes egocentric and arrogant, I have to admit that a lot of it may have to do with ignorance; ignorance of the fact that there is actually more than enough space for everyone to soar and fly. A thorough understanding of this basic truth should limit many of the unnecessary unhealthy competition, hatred and bigotry, we see all around today.Whenever possible, irrespective of where you are located, or your position on the ladder of success, do whatever is within your capacity, to help others rise. Don’t ever get fixated on the fact that lending a helping hand to someone who needs it, automatically guarantees that they would turn out better than you. And even if they do, who cares? As long as their success doesn’t turn you into a failure, we should all be fine.
For example, in providing assistance to victims of substance abuse and overdosing, the non-profit I collaborate with, provides skills acquisition training for these individuals, as a bid to make them more independent, even as they get reintegrated back into society. So what is the point of teaching people to fish rather than feeding them fish? Let’s discuss.
The Benefits of Teaching People to Fish, instead of giving them fish
- It creates a stronger economy: Instead of giving people aid on a continuous basis, why not teach them how to create aid for themselves? When people are empowered to create wealth for themselves, they add to the overall boost of the economy. Because they end up paying their share of taxes, hiring labor, and also create a revenue generating system that goes around. This applies to Developed countries giving aid donations to poorer nations, as well as to individuals who can use the resources and skills that they have to better the lives of others. I have seen people hoard up on vital information that would have made processes simpler for others. And I have only wondered how that serves the greater good of humanity. It is better to empower people with the right tools, information and resources they need, to make something better out of their lives. Don’t get too comfortable giving out bits and nuggets. Choose today to go beyond that, and add the kind of value that changes a life, or the world for good.
- It creates stronger relationships. When you empower individuals, groups or nations with the right tools to become self-sufficient, it strengthens relationships. Equipping people with the resources they need to become independent potentiates trust and even loyalty. You may think that man or woman, whom you constantly give some few dollars to get along, is satisfied with just receiving, but I must tell you that, the opposite may just be the case. People need to be empowered to stand on their own, and when we go out of our way to create that for them, it tightens the bond that connects us with them.
- It creates healthier communities. When people are empowered, communities are also empowered, which directly or indirectly impacts their health and well being. Financially independent people would no longer need to remain on the streets and be entangled in the web of substance use and promiscuity, which are great vehicles for the spread of communicable diseases. So, the next time you consider giving a dollar bill to that guy or lady down the street, I implore you to begin to think of ways to make a positive impact on their lives, which would lead them to becoming self-sufficient.
In wrapping this up, the benefits of teaching others to fish; far outweigh that of just giving them fish. There is more than enough room for all of us to fly; we just need to be willing to let others in. One of my favorite verses of Scripture is “……… it’s more blessed to give, than to receive”- Acts 20:35. I hope you will use the resources available to you, to give others room to fly! Because, you are not only adding value to their lives, but are also adding value to the world!
To your continued success. Cheers!!!